Experts opine that self-driving technology should not be discarded because of Tesla Model S fatal crash

With a 2015 Tesla Model S electric sedan having been involved in a fatal crash when driven in automated mode in May, advocates of self-driving cars are now scrambling to contain the fallout of the crash.

The fatal crash took place on May 7; and caused the death of 40-year-old Canton, Ohio, resident Joshua Brown. According to federal regulators, preliminary reports show that the crash occurred when a semi-trailer rig turned left in front of Brown’s Model S car that was in Autopilot mode at a highway intersection.

The crash is believed to be the first fatality linked to a car engaged in a semi-autonomous driving feature --- electric vehicle maker Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ feature.

Drawing attention to the fact that the autopilot system "is not a self-driving system," former National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) chief David Strickland -- who is lobbying for self-driving cars on behalf of Ford, Volvo, Google, Uber and Lyft -- said that the fatal crash should not become a deterrent to self-driving technology which holds a lot of promise for the future.

Michael Harley, a Kelley Blue Book senior analyst, is also of the opinion that "autonomous vehicles are the way to go" in the long term. However, he also feels that the development of self-driving cars will apparently witness a setback due to the fatal crash; and said: "Unfortunately the biggest issue we have right now is public perception… you get one report of automated vehicle fatality and it's headlines everywhere."

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